Hywel Dda University Health Board Chief Executive Steve Moore has paid tribute to the “remarkable efforts” of our partners, contractors, local communities, staff and volunteers as we undergo the formal handover of a number of temporary field hospitals to help in the fight against COVID-19.
The seven hospitals – which have been converted from council leisure centres, sport and recreational facilities and a school - have been planned and developed at pace with partner organisations across the public and private sectors, to allow us to care for patients with the coronavirus across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthen.
Built in a matter of weeks, with contractors often working in shifts around the clock, the hospitals are:
These names were chosen for several reasons – to provide consistency for the communities we serve with our colleagues in the north of Wales; recognition of the geographical location which is practical and also offers the ability to differentiate where there are multiple sites in a single town; acknowledgement of the buildings’ substantive purpose; respect for our culture and language, and importantly, a reflection back to our communities of the symbol they have chosen for this pandemic – the rainbow, a symbol of hope. All of the sites will be handed over from the respective contractors to the health board by Monday 27 April and will be brought on line as required.
Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda, said: “The efforts that our colleagues and partners in local authorities, private businesses including Bluestone and Parc Y Scarlets, contractors and our own staff have made is nothing short of remarkable and I want to personally extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to all for coming together and making this happen in the midst of a very serious global pandemic.
“As a health board we are ready for the challenges ahead and we want our communities to be assured that we have done everything we possibly can to get to this point based on national planning and modelling assumptions.
“What we have witnessed in other countries all over the world is that it is currently very hard to predict how this virus will behave and in Wales we continue to take learning from other parts of the country that have already experienced huge demand on their services, particularly in the south, and will adapt and change our plans accordingly based on the needs of our population.
“We’re never going to know exactly how this pandemic will develop locally until we get to each stage and we are going to need to be as flexible as possible about how we use these facilities to care for our population. It’s important that we draw on all of the resources that we have to care for people across the whole healthcare system, and these field hospitals are a fantastic resource for us to be able to draw on.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with these projects for their outstanding effort and commitment.”
Pembrokeshire County Council’s Leader, David Simpson, added: “I am very proud of the fact that the whole operation has taken just 26 days from the very first moment the Council became involved – which started with the design work – to the completed project.
“The transformation has been remarkable and will greatly assist in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is a truly magnificent effort by all those involved and demonstrates just what can be achieved when everyone works together for a common aim.
“Indeed, from the very beginning, this has been a shining example of partnership working between ourselves - as the local authority - the Hywel Dda University Health Board and of course by Bluestone itself for making the site available in the first place.”
William McNamara, Chief Executive of Bluestone, added: “We are proud to be working alongside Hywel Dda and Pembrokeshire County Council to deliver Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las.
“The strength of spirit over the last month has been formidable - the Bluestone team, Pembrokeshire County Council and the contractors from Morgan Sindall have gone above and beyond to make the transformation possible. We are pleased to be able to play our part to help those personally affected by the outbreak.”
Jon Daniels, the Scarlets General Manager of Rugby, added: “It seems only a few weeks ago that the players were on the barn training, now the facility is ready as a field hospital. It’s been incredible to see how quickly the sites at the stadium have been converted and that is down to the tireless work of everyone involved, from local contractors, volunteers and our staff here at Parc y Scarlets. The community has really pulled together to make this happen.”
The Leader of Llanelli Town Council, Councillor Shahana Najmi, added: “The Town Council’s indoor bowls facility at the Selwyn Samuel Centre has been made available to the Health Board rent free and has undergone some significant internal changes in order to facilitate the Health Board’s need for additional bed space.
“These are very difficult times we are currently experiencing and the Town Council is proud to provide any assistance it can in the Health Board’s fight against COVID-19. I pay tribute to everyone who worked so hard to transform the centre into the Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel and I would like to thank the health care workers, all frontline staff and volunteers for their service in delivering much needed support and aid to our community.”
Eifion Evans, Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, said: “Ceredigion County Council is proud to be supporting Hywel Dda University Health Board in establishing these new facilities. To be able to hand over the buildings within three weeks since starting work demonstrates a tremendous effort. I’d like to thank all the staff from the Health Board and the Council, and all local contractors who stepped up at short notice, for their hard work turning two leisure centres and a school into extra hospital bed facilities in less than three weeks.”
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, added: “I am proud of the way we have pulled together to make these facilities available, but as I’ve said previously, my only hope is that they are not needed.”